COVID-19 In Brazil: “better safe than sorry”

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Mariane Catarina Tavares Salton and Ms. Gabriela Oliveira da Silva, two second year medical students at Unicesumar, Maringá, Brazil. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


In spite of 195.725 thousand death and 7.716.045 millions cases in 20201, the Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, insists in ignore the critical situation of the country, going against scientific knowledge. Brazilians, mainly his followers, are influenced by his speech that defend drugs off-label, which have no evidence about the efficiency in treatment of coronavirus, and his position anti-vaccine. He has already said that vaccine may turn people into crocodiles. In addition, the lockdown was discouraged by him, causing conflicts with the governors and mayors who adopted this strategy.

 The pandemic of Covid-19 increased the self-medication and prescription drugs off-label in the country. The “kit-covid”, which is composed of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, azithromycin, ivermectin, nitazoxanide, zinc supplements and vitamins C and D, were encouraged even by the Ministry of Health2. This reflects the lack of information from the population, in addiction of wrong government influence and the spread of fake news, which can cause risks to the public health.

Since 1973, Brazil has a National Immunization Program (PIN) with the objective of coordinating immunization actions. Today, this program is part of Unified Health System (SUS) and was responsible for eradicating of smallpox and polio and control many diseases3. Although there is this efficient program, COVID-19’s vaccination in Brazil is in third position in Latin America, behind Chile and Uruguay4. Almost 5,06% of Brazilians received two doses of CoronaVac or Astrazeneca vaccine5.

While lockdown is important to reduce the incidence of COVID-19 and mortality, Brazil did not had a true lockdown in any of your regions, because only few departments were closed. As a consequence, even the first wave was not controlled in Brazil.

In this sense, the lessons learned from last year were not implemented in Brazil, so the expression “better safe than sorry” was not followed. As a result, in the beginning of 2021, Manaus (AM) had an increasing of cases and death, associated with the circulation of the new variant P1 in the state, marking the start of the second wave in the country6. At the moment, brazil’s health system is overload, with increase intensive care occupancy and exhaustion of health professionals, impairing mental health and increasing cases of burnout.

Scientists are predicting the third wave in Brazil, if nothing is done to control the actual crisis in the country. Nowadays, Brazil is worldwide considered the epicenter of the pandemic, threatening the entire effort of the international community to control the pandemic and allowing new variants to emerge4.

References

  1. Brasil. Ministério da Saúde. Coronavírus Brasil [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2021 apr 21]. Available from https://covid.saude.gov.br/.
  2. Melo JRR, Duarte EC, Moraes MV, Fleck K, Arrais PSD. Automedicação e uso indiscriminado de medicamentos durante a pandemia da COVID-19. Cad Saúde Pública. 2021;  37(4): e00053221.
  3. Brasil. Ministério da Saúde. Sistema de Informação do Programa Nacional de Imunizações – Apresentação [Internet]. [cited 2021 apr 21]. Available from http://pni.datasus.gov.br/apresentacao.asp.
  4. Horton J. Covid-19: Why have deaths soared in Brazil? [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2021 apr 21]. BBC News. Available from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-56663217.
  5. G1 – São Paulo. Mapa da vacinação contra Covid-19 no Brasil [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2021 apr 21]. G1. Available from https://especiais.g1.globo.com/bemestar/vacina/2021/mapa-brasil-vacina-covid/.
  6. Marquitti FMD, Coutinho RM, Ferreira LS, Borges ME, Portella TP, Silva RLP, et al. Carta à Comunidade Científica: o Brasil frente às novas variantes de SARSCoV- 2 [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2021 apr 21]. Scielo Preprints. Avaliable from https://preprints.scielo.org/index.php/scielo/preprint/view/2001/version/2120.

About the author

Mariane Catarina Tavares Salton, 22 years old, is a second year medical at Unicesumar, Maringá, Brazil. She is a local coordinator of IFMSA Brazil Unicesumar, and member of the Academic league of Medical Clinics (LACMMA).

Gabriela Oliveira da Silva, 22 years-old, is a second year medical student at Unicesumar, Maringá, Brazil. She is a local coordinator and member of the local activity team of IFMSA Brazil Unicesumar. She is also vice president of the Academic League of Medical Clinic the Maringá (LACMMA).

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